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Soft Condensed Matter Physics

We study the physics of soft mesoscopic materials, sometimes known as complex fluids. We investigate colloids, emulsions, polymers, surfactant solutions, non-Brownian suspensions, gels, ... These are the materials that make up biological organisms: blood and other cells, genetic material (DNA), protein, etc. They are also the materials found in drug delivery systems and in consumer products such as shampoo, shaving cream, paint, pigments, and plastics. "Soft" materials yield or deform readily under external forces because they are "mesoscopic" – they are made from things that are large compared to atoms and simple molecules but generally too small to see with the naked eye. These mesoscopic components often self assemble into extraordinary structures with striking mechanical, optical, or dynamical properties. These web pages provide an overview of our work on these fascinating materials.

Patchy particles: Colloids with valence
Colloidal particles with sticky patches. Columns show particles with 1, 2, 3, and 4 patches of decreasing patch size in each row. See research page. Also see news stories in Nature News & Views, The New Scientist, C&E News, and CBS News.

Colloidal ball and socket joint
Brownian motion in water suspension
(particles ≈ 1/100 human hair diameter)